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Small Woman Luggage Size

I'm preparing for a two week trip to Europe- Germany, Switzerland and Italy. My husband and I have decided we want the wheeled backpack style luggage, but I'm struggling with finding the right size. I'm 5'2'' and about 123 pounds- he's much larger and knows he can handle a 26 in pack, but I'm stuck between the 22'' and 26''. Does anyone have any experience with this and can advise me as to which size to go with?

Posted by
10339 posts

You should be able to fit your belongings in a 22" bag. I've traveled up to 4 weeks with a 21"-22" bag. This year I will be packing in the same size bag for an almost 6 week trip. Pack light. You'll be much happier.

Posted by
23437 posts

Most likely a wheeled, 26" bag will have to be checked as it is too big and too heavy when packed. Most people, big and small, can easily use a 20 to 22" wheeled bag. But a wheeled bag will add weight.

Posted by
16894 posts

I have not much height advantage on you, Kacey, and surely no more muscles, but I have carried a 22"-inch backpack for periods of many months at a time in Europe. Even at that size, it's easy to put in too many heavy shoes, toiletries, books, and souvenirs, so you must still make an effort to pack light. Of course, I end up carrying the backpack much more than I really need to. Most people here choose plain wheeled bags, having found that if they're wheeling along and suddenly come to some stairs, they're not really very likely to pull out the backpack straps to handle the situation.

Posted by
1976 posts

I'm 5 feet tall and 130 pounds, and I take a 22" rolling suitcase. I pack light and can lift the bag over my head if I have to (in order to stow it) but of course I appreciate the kindness of strong men! :) You can carry on a 22" bag on a transatlantic flight and the bag is plenty big enough for a 2-week trip. If you need packing advice, you can follow Rick's packing list for women found on this website. I modify the list for my own needs.

Posted by
5837 posts

If you follow the packing light topics of this discussion forum, you will see that many posters are minimalist evangelicals.

You need to figure out your own travel preferences and needs. Do you NEED your own euro voltage hair appliances or can you use the hotel unit or do without? How often are you willing to hand wash then dry your clothing in your hotel (or have your hotel do your laundry)? Do you NEED to bring back souvenirs like that hand made German incense smoking wooden figure or yodeling marmot? How many pairs of shoes do you NEED and/or do you NEED fancy or formal clothing for dinner or Sunday Mass? One of my nephews can get by with two pairs of shorts, a couple of T-shirts and underpants and a pair of flip flops.

Yes, an sub-22 inch carry-on weighing under 8 kg is easy to carry up the narrow stairs of your lift-less hotel. (And if you can keep a rollers filled mass to 8 kg, you can get your load below 8 kg with a back pack bag because similar sized back packs are lighter than rollers.) But can you accept a minimalist life? What are your travel preferences, that is the question only you can answer.

Posted by
1194 posts

You can easily travel with a 22" pack. It sounds like you are looking at wheeled backpacks though. Have you considered the Rick Steves rolling backpack? It is 20" (2" shorter to accommodate wheels and international restrictions). I've been using it for business travel where I have to carry a lot of heavy paperwork. I still manage to get all my paperwork (several binders) and my clothes in there. I'm 5'4" tall with a short torso and it fits me fine.

It's more important to pack lightly when you are smaller. That's because the weight can really crush a smaller person. Double up with things with your husband (laundry stuff, etc.) Pack a capsule wardrobe to minimize clothing and maximize options. Decant your toiletries. Only take 2 pairs of shoes - a pair of walking shoes and a pair of dress shoes. Evaluate clothing items for weight - stick with summer weight and layer for cold. Take less underwear and wash.

As stated by others, 26" is check-through only. consider a smaller bag.

Posted by
4174 posts

You are tiny. I suspect your clothes are also tiny. If this XL, XXL, size 10 feet person can spend a month or more traveling with a 22" spinner kept at a total of 20 pounds, you can, too. That spinner weighs 6 pounds empty, so that's 16 pounds of clothes and whatever else I put in it.

My husband takes a tried and true RS convertible backpack. He's also a "large" person.

We each take enough for a week and a day, the day being the one we are on the plane, doing laundry or having it done for us.

With all the places you plan to go, whether you go by train or rent a car, you will not have an easy or fun time lugging around anything bigger than a 22" bag.

Update: Cindy mentioned a "capsule" wardrobe. Go to the Vivienne Files posts on packing -- -- and you will find a huge number of posts illustrating how to coordinate your clothes so that you don't have to take so much. Having said that, I still take less than she shows and less than is on the RS women's list.